The 2021 Boston Red Sox will have a ton of young talent on their roster, much of which resulted from key offseason trades. The latest and most eye popping one was a three team trade with the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals. For the Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi and cash was sent to the Royals for outfielder Franchy Cordero, pitcher Josh Winckowski and three players to be named later. The Mets acquired young outfielder Khalil Lee from the Royals to complete the trade. Trading a key outfielder from their 2018 World Series run was risky, but I believe the Red Sox mindset is an attempt to groom younger talent and inject much needed pitching help in the near future.
First, I want to personally thank Andrew Benintendi for all of his great moments, especially in 2018. During his career in Boston, he finished with 51 home runs and 260 RBIs. His most memorable moment came at the end of game 4 of the 2018 ALCS and this play still leaves me speechless to this day. With the bases loaded, 2 outs recorded and the crowd in Houston going crazy, Astros 3B Alex Bregman hit a sinking line drive to left that seemed doom to fall for a walk off extra base hit. Benintendi quickly silenced the crowd by swooping in for an incredible diving catch to secure a nail biting 8-6 win to put Boston up 3-1 on the defending championships on the road to their fourth championship of the 21st Century. He not only saved struggling closer Craig Kimbrel and didn’t allow Houston back into the series. That kind of defense and especially his big arm was what he was known for, but his last season left a lot to be desired. He struggled mightily, going 4 for 39, before his season was cut short on August 11th due to a rib injury. When you add this to the trade of superstar Mookie Betts last season to the World Champion Dodgers, the outfield suddenly looks like a weak spot for manager Alex Cora.
2021 Boston Red Sox Need Players to Step Up
The Red Sox will now need Franchy Cordero to make a name for himself and quickly. In 95 career games, he’s launched just 12 home runs and 36 RBI’s. With Hunter Renfrow, Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Verdugo also at Alex Cora’s disposal, Corderon will need to prove he can be reliable at the plate for an entire season. His batting average has dipped below .240 every season but one (2019) where it stood at .333 in only 9 games. I hope the move to a new city will help increase his productivity. Hunter Renfroe’s addition this offseason was huge too, because he brought 97 career home runs to this lineup and protection in the lineup to JD Martinez. As an added bonus, his outfield defense speaks for itself, just ask the Houston Astros in 2020. Only time will tell if this outfield group will be the long term solution for Boston.
Acquiring Josh Winckowski was a risking move, because his minor league pitching statistics are not that impressive. Between 2016 and 2019, he posted a 18-17 record, and 3.35 ERA. With those numbers, it may take awhile for him to be called up to the show, so hopefully the Red Sox farm system can help him develop. While this might be a potentially strong move in the long term, I am still waiting for a free agent or trade splash to address the team’s biggest weakness: the bullpen. Dealing for former Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino was a great first step but more needs to be done. The fate of this team’s season lies on whether they can close out games and all I see is a repeat of 31 blown saves in 2019 running through my head.
Red Sox Breakouts?
One X-factor and potential breakout season could come in the form of utlity player Bobby Dalbec. He has the ability to play both first and third base and did have some impressive power numbers in a brief sint with the Red Sox last season. In only 23 games, he finished with a .263 batting average, eight home runs and 16 RBI’s. Add that to a .959 OPS and you have a future on base machine in this lineup. Unfortunately, he has tough competition at both corner positions on the infield that will limit the potential of putting up monster numbers.
Rafael Devers has third base locked down, thanks to pitchers fearing his tremendous power (74 career homeruns), but first base is a different story. Michael Chavis struggled in 2020 with just five long balls, 19 RBI’s and a .212 average, compared to 18 homeruns, 58 RBI’s and a .254 average in 2019. Dalbec will provide competition at that position throughout the season, as long as he remains consistent at the plate. However, I see no reason why Chavis won’t be handed the starting job to begin the season. Expierence will be the key difference in manager Alex Cora’s decision. Chavis deserves a second chance to prove he can replicate his 2019 numbers, but don’t be suprised if he’s on a short leash. Plus it’s never a bad idea to have an insurance policy in case of Devers unexpectly suffering an injury.
Who do you think the Red Sox should trade for or sign in free agency? What do you think of the Andrew Benintendi trade? How will this impact the possibility of Jackie Bradley Jr. returning to Boston? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or the CruelFan Facebook page. Please go check out my article, where I react to the Yankees shipping Adam Ottavino to Boston and find out why it’s a rare move between the two hated rivals.
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By: Whitney Dowds CruelFan.com